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Sports sponsorship and its role in French corporate marketing strategy

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  1. Abstract
  2. Sports sponsorships: Communicating through sports
    1. Definitions
    2. The main sports sponsorships forms
    3. The French market of sports sponsorships and specificities
  3. The role of sports sponsorship within marketing strategy
    1. Sports sponsorships objectives
    2. Integration of sports sponsorships into corporate marketing mix
    3. Limits of sports sponsorships
  4. Leading a successful sports sponsorship operation
    1. Congruency between a sports sponsorship and its sponsors
    2. Valorize its sports sponsorship operation
  5. Case study: Le Challenge du 'monde des Grandes Ecoles'
    1. Discussion
    2. Background
    3. Sponsorship objectives
    4. Actions
    5. Results
  6. Conclusion and recommendations

The common objective of each corporation is to be profitable by developing the sales of its products and services. Implementing the right marketing strategy is crucial for companies to be differentiated from their competitors in a context of high global competition on the world markets, where the offer tends to be standardized for the consumers. Thus, a need for strong identity is required for corporations in order to appeal to their target considering the overabundance of advertising messages, which makes it more difficult to convince the consumers. Owing to consumers' disregard for classical communication tools, many corporations are turning to sponsorship of events with the aim of transcending their monetary missions and demonstrating that they are socially active. In this context, sponsoring sports seems to be an original promotional tool that can answer this need of differentiation thanks to the popularity of sports. Sports nowadays is an integral part of our life be it in any part of the world and France is a country where sports generate much attention in terms of practice and interest. As a result, consumers' perception of a sponsor corporation can be enhanced from this participation in sport events. French corporations have realized that they can increase profits by being associated with sports and have started developing sports sponsorship operations in the recent decades, even if they had no sports related activity. For instance, BNP Paribas Bank has been supporting tennis in all its forms since 1973. However, this phenomenon of sports sponsorship dates back to olden times when sports and arts received patronage from wealthy individuals or families. The first historic example of sports sponsorship during the early days of human civilization is that of the Antique Roma Games. Julius Caesar was quick to catch on to the benefits he could gain among the population by organizing gladiator fights. He was indeed conscious of the positive impacts on his image and popularity from the organization of these events. However, it is only in the second part of the nineteenth century that we found the first case of sports sponsorship linked with commercial motivation. By sponsoring the first Britain cricket team tour in Australia in 1861, the food company ?Spiers & Pond? which was not linked to sports achieved a £11,000 Return on Investment. Sports sponsorship really developed in the 1980s, in parallel to the increasing media coverage of professional sporting events . In France, the phenomenon of sports sponsorship flowered at the end of the 90s, driven by the passion generated by the French Soccer World Cup in 1998: from less than €1 billion in 1999 to an estimated €4 billion in 2009 according to ?TNS Sport?, the global specialist in Sports & Entertainment research. After two decades of steady growth, sports sponsorship seems to have become a mature market (especially in the context of economic crises), and its management more stringent among managers in France. After having defined sports sponsorship, as well as the necessary elements required in order to understand its issues, we will study its role in corporate marketing strategy. Then, we will try to explain how to conduct a successful sports sponsorship operation before performing a case study, which will provide empirical findings helpful in answering our research problem.

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